(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- The current epidemic of childhood obesity could start when some babies are just six months old.
Boston investigators analyzed data on 559 pregnant women and their children. They found babies who gained the most weight during infancy were significantly more likely to be obese at age three. Just a 1.5 pound difference at six months, for example, conferred a 40 percent higher obesity risk.
"There is increasing evidence that rapid changes in weight during infancy increase children's risk of later obesity," study author Elsie Taveras, from Children's Hospital Boston, was quoted as saying. "The mounting evidence suggests that infancy may be a critical period during which to prevent childhood obesity and its related consequences."
While emphasizing more research is needed to pin down the link between early weight gain and later obesity, the investigators believe these findings suggest a need to rethink our traditional views of what a healthy baby looks like.
"There is still a lot more we need to understand about the mechanisms of how this all fits together," continues Taveras. "But this data clearly shows how the earliest interventions might actually have very long-term benefits . . . we need to find out how to modify weight gain in infancy in ways that balance the needs of the brain and the body."
SOURCE: Pediatrics, published online March 30, 2009